“One of the causes of the downfall of Rome was that people, being fed by the State… ceased to have any responsibility for themselves or their children, and consequently became a nation of wasters. They frequented circuses, where paid performers appeared before them in the arena, much as we see the crowds now flocking to look on at paid players playing football… Thousands of boys and young men, pale, narrow-chested, hunched-up, miserable specimens, smoking endless cigarettes, numbers of them betting, all of them learning to be hysterical as they groan or cheer in panic unison with their neighbors—the worst sound of all being the hysterical scream of laughter that greets anu little trip or fall of a player. One wonders whether this can be the same nation which had gained for itself the reputation of being a stolid, pipe-sucking manhood, unmoved by panic of excitement, and reliable in the tightest of places. Get the lads away from this—teach them to be manly.”
Scouting for Boys (1908)
“Among the Thugs” by Bill Buford offers a rare, daring and often grotesque look into the nature of crowd violence. Buford is an American journalist that studied at Cambridge. Throughout the book we are guided through Buford’s quest to infiltrate, analyze and possibly explain the practices of English football supporters; specifically those of the supporters of the Manchester United football club. Through a series of narratives Buford reports and tries to explain the deviant behavior of this group of supporters, first by following and observing and eventually by becoming one of them. His journeys take him to a number of different European cities, bars, stadiums, and violent outbreaks. Buford thoroughly illustrates the nature of this extreme and form of social deviance. He takes a micro sociological approach to his research, although admittedly becomes too involved in some cases, and runs the risk of be...